Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 12, 2014

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

Quotation of the Day

Indies Cherish Customers 'Because They Are Us'

"This is what a local bookstore is, and each local business in the community has its own version of this story. We cherish our customers not because they shop with us, but because they are us. Perhaps you learned to read in our children’s section, and maybe someday we'll be selling your novel among the bestsellers. Or we met you when you were a baby, hired you in high school and we hope to be here for your children one day.

"This is the story of community. This is why we have always urged people to shop locally whenever possible. With your help, there will always be an Iconoclast Books, along with other local businesses, to serve you. In our book, this is how we all will remain strong, no matter what man or nature throws at us, in the cruelest month or the kindest. And that is worth far more than a bargain."

--Sarah Hedrick, owner of Iconoclast Books, Ketchum, Idaho, reflecting upon "20 Years of Iconoclastic Bookselling" in a post at the Los Angeles Review of Books' Naked Bookseller blog.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!


WBN U.S. by the Numbers

World Book Night U.S. announced some post-WBN figures:

2: The number of hours it took TSI to deliver 6,000 copies of Dover's Shakespeare's Sonnets to four Broadway theaters, 6-8 a.m. on April 23. WBN executive director Carl Lennertz commented: "TSI came through for WBN in many ways, and this was one of them. For those of you who know the Times Square traffic grid, this delivery feat was superheroesque."

8: The percentage increase of sales this year to date, vs. last year, for WBN pick regular editions. Lennertz added: "Sales is not one of our key metrics, but it's still great to see. It shows us that the WBN editions are going to non-book buyers with no negative impact on sales. This number also seems strong considering the winter weather."

49: The percentage of WBN givers with graduate degrees.

1,230: The number of Books-A-Million associates and office staff who were WBN givers.

2 million: The media impression pick-up from a key Barnes & Noble WBN release, including Bloomberg, Reuters and 15 big-city business journals.

Amazon Adds 15 Cities to Its USPS Sunday Delivery Route

Amazon has added 15 more cities to its Sunday delivery program for Prime members through the U.S. Postal Service. Joining the Los Angeles and New York metro areas, where Sunday deliveries began last November, are multiple cities in Texas (Austin, Dallas, Houston, College Station, San Antonio, Waco), Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus), Kentucky (Lexington, Louisville) and Louisiana (New Orleans, Shreveport), as well as Indianapolis, Ind., Oklahoma City, Okla., and Philadelphia, Pa.

Village Book Store in Littleton, N.H., Closes

photo: Yelp

A liquidation sale was held Friday at the now-closed Village Book Store in Littleton, N.H., the Manchester Union Leader reported, adding that "although there were bargains galore in the rapidly dwindling bookshelf stock--the shelves eventually went, too--few seemed really happy to be there on the store's final weekend. The mood was much more wake than party, with little excitement expressed at the discounted finds. There were not many smiles and the familiar friendly banter was missing.... The book store's employees had been replaced by auction house staff members who handled the liquidation sale."

On the shop's now dormant website, owner Jeff Wheeler posted a brief message: "The Village Bookstore is Now Closed. Thank you to all our customers who have supported the Bookstore over the years." The bookshop opened in 1974.

Citing the usual culprits of online competition and the 2008 economic downturn, the Union Leader also noted that Littleton had "embarked on a major public works project that tore up Main Street's sidewalks, creating piles of excavation debris that blocked access to businesses. It also eliminated Main Street parking on both sides for a long time, further interrupting local commerce."

Other indie booksellers in the region spoke with the Caledonian Record about Village Bookstore as well as the changing landscape of the book trade.

"As a book lover, book buyer and book seller, it's a sad day for Littleton, especially for downtown," said Mike Dickerman, owner of Bondcliff Books, Littleton. "Village Book Store was a destination store and the anchor of Main Street shopping for many years. In my opinion, it was one of the best bookstores in the state."

Linda Ramsdell, owner of Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., said Village Bookstore's closing leaves "a big hole," and observed that the changing industry now "requires constant learning, adjustment and re-imagining. It's definitely a challenge, but a good challenge as long as there are people in the area appreciating what we do."

Scott Beck, co-owner of Boxcar & Caboose Bookshop and Cafe, St. Johnsbury, Vt., expressed sadness "that a bookstore that has meant so much to the Littleton area will be closing, and wish Jeff and his staff the best in their future pursuits." He added: "You have to constantly be re-inventing yourself and changing what you're doing to move with the consumers. The successful operation of any business in the 21st is very challenging."

Opposition Continues over Defunding Tactic at S.C. Colleges

As the South Carolina Senate debated the issue last week, free speech advocates continued to voice their opposition to budget cuts approved earlier this year by the House that would slash $52,000 from the College of Charleston and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate. The amounts represent money spent on reading programs for incoming students.

Some legislators had objected to books containing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes--the College of Charleston had assigned Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and the University of South Carolina Upstate selected Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio.

Opposition to the House's decision has included student protests on the campuses affected and elsewhere, as well as a joint letter sent by the National Coalition Against Censorship, ACLU of South Carolina and other free speech organizations to members of the state's Senatorial Finance Committee urging reinstatement of the funding.

Authors have also voiced their dissent, particularly through the Writers Speaking Out Loud campaign launched by Out Loud's publisher Hub City Press. Betsy Teter, executive director of the publisher, said, "It's really clear that this action by the state Legislature has had a chilling affect at the public universities. Faculty members now have to ask themselves 'Do I get my university in trouble if I assign this book or that book?' We're watching this, and it's not right."

Junot Diaz, who teaches at MIT, said, "Most of our students are dying for a better, more realistic, more complex, more human vision of their world than the ones that these legislators are trying to sell. My impression of this madness? That this was flat-out hate masquerading as concern for 'public sensibility.' "

PRH U.K.'s 'My Independent Bookshop' Open to Consumers

My Independent Bookshop, a reader recommendation platform unveiled last month by Penguin Random House U.K., has officially opened to consumers with more than 400 profiles, including over 70 bookshops. The publisher described the bookseller participation number as "really healthy" for the few weeks since the program launched in beta form to the trade at London Book Fair in early April, the Bookseller reported.

Books in the virtual shops can be purchased through, the e-commerce arm of Gardners wholesalers. Sheila O'Reilly, owner of Dulwich Books in South London, told the Bookseller "she hoped the online profile would help the shop to extend its reach and build a new community beyond London. The bookshop is helping to promote it through postcards and bookmarks in store."

Author Terry Pratchett is linking his bookshop profile, Narrativia, to the Hayling Island Bookshop in Havant. Marie Telford, the store's owner, said: "We were absolutely astonished, delighted and honoured to hear that Terry had chosen our tiny bookshop to be linked to his online bookshop Narrativia. We are so pleased that he is helping independent bookshops to extend their reach in this way. This new site is a great way for people to share their favorite books online and we also hope that many of them will come and visit us in person too."

Tim Walker, president of the Bookseller Association, observed: "Part of you thinks you shouldn't encourage your customers to buy books online because we are robbing sales from ourselves. But the counter argument would be that actually customers are shopping online anyway and they also buy from supermarkets, Waterstones, WH Smith, etc. If customers want to buy online and we are not online then they will buy from someone else, so we may as well be in the game and this is giving us an opportunity to have an online presence."

More Sony Reader Store Users Transferring to Kobo

Sony's Reader Store will close on June 16 in the U.K., Germany, Austria and Australia, with customers and their current e-book libraries transferring to Kobo's digital reading ecosystem soon after the closure, as happened earlier this year in the U.S. and Canada. The free Kobo App for Android will be pre-loaded on select Sony smartphones and tablets.

"Both companies share the goal of putting the most passionate booklovers at the center of the reading experience," said Kobo CEO Takahito Aiki.


Image of the Day: Meet the Sandman

photo: Catch the Moment

Former star New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera visited R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., last week--the store was one of only five bookstores selected to host him on his tour to promote his autobiography, The Closer, written with Wayne Coffey (Little, Brown). A long line of fans waited patiently outside the store to meet "The Sandman." Here Mariano poses with R.J. Julia staffers.

Cool Idea of the Day: The Warby Parker Book Club

The book club at eyeglass retailer Warby Parker "has gone through multiple iterations in the last four years. What began as a few people talking about their current reads has evolved into multiple department-specific book clubs and a company-wide speaker series," Fast Company reported.

"It happened very organically," said company co-founder Neil Blumenthal, who began exchanging books in the summer of 2010 with some of his staff, which eventually led to a decision to talk about them informally in the office showroom. Soon there was a weekly book club at at the company-wide meeting, where someone "would read a book and present it to the 20 or so other employees with key findings," Fast Company wrote.

"The hope was that if it was fiction that it would spur creativity and that if it was nonfiction there would be inherent lessons from other industries and walks of life that allow us to be better at designing eyewear," Blumenthal said.

Now there are 11 "mini book clubs," which meet at least once a month, among Warby's 300 employees and the company-wide book club has turned into a speaker series. Due to the success of the book club model, Warby "chose to extend its book clubs to the public. The retailer has partnered with The Believer magazine, hosting a reading from each new issue. The retail stores also sell a selection of titles, handpicked from 14 independent publishers that Warby works with, including McSweeney's and powerHouse Books," Fast Company noted.

"At Warby Parker, we're constantly looking to find new ways to both challenge and inspire our employees," said Blumenthal. "One of the most obvious, but often overlooked, ways is simply to pick up a book and read."

At least one independent bookseller agreed. Posting a link to the article on its Facebook page, [words] Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J., told its customers: "Warby Parker with a great idea! [words] Bookstore would be happy to work with your company on establishing workplace book clubs!"

Book Trailer of the Day: The Kraken Project

The Kraken Project by Douglas Preston (Forge), in which Wyman Ford, a former monk turned CIA operative, aims to stop an AI program that has become sentient and escaped into the Internet.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lawrence Goldstone on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

This morning on Good Morning America: Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781451624427). She will also appear on World News Tonight and Nightline and tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends.

Also on Good Morning America: Timothy Geithner, author of Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises (Crown, $35, 9780804138598).


Today on the View: Jane Fonda, author of Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More (Random House, $17, 9780812978612).


Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Ryan Porter, author of Make Your Own Lunch: How to Live an Epically Epic Life Through Work, Travel, Wonder, and (Maybe) College (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402297038).


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Lawrence Goldstone, author of Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies (Ballantine, $28, 9780345538031).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Ralph Nader, author of Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State (Nation, $25.99, 9781568584546).


Tonight on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season: A Novel (Bloomsbury, $17, 9781620402658).


Tonight on the Daily Show: Martin Blaser, author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues (Holt, $28, 9780805098105).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Glenn Greenwald, author of No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Metropolitan, $27, 9781627790734).


Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: Willie Randolph, author of The Yankee Way: Playing, Coaching, and My Life in Baseball (It Books, $26.99, 9780061450778).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Sam Kean, author of The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316182348).


Tomorrow on Extra: Jason Priestley, author of Jason Priestley: A Memoir (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780062247582).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Jonathan M. Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Palgrave Macmillan, $18, 9781137278975).


Tomorrow on the O'Reilly Factor: Glenn Beck, co-author of Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (Threshold Editions, $14.99, 9781476773889).


Tomorrow night on Conan: George R.R. Martin, author of, among other things, the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the basis for HBO's Game of Thrones.


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Ron Suskind, author of Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism (Kingswell, $26.99, 9781423180364).

A&E: Third Season of Longmire Starts June 2

A&E's Longmire, the Western crime drama based on the Walt Longmire mystery series by Craig Johnson, begins its third season on Monday, June 2, and Johnson's publisher is ready to continue to meet the demand by viewers for Longmire tales.

The 10th Longmire novel, Any Other Name (Viking, $26.95, 9780670026463), appears May 13. The ninth, A Serpent's Tooth (Penguin, $15, 9780143125464), is now in paperback and will team up with a nine-part box set coming October 28.

A TV tie-in cover for Kindness Goes Unpunished (Penguin, $15, 9780143126720) is out May 28, with The Cold Dish mass market tie-in (Penguin, $7.99, 9780143127246) riding shotgun on June 4. Spirit of Steamboat (Penguin, $12, 9780143125877) will get a Christmas-themed cover for its October 28 paperback release. Twelve Longmire short stories, including a new one, come out October 21 in Wait For Signs (Viking, $22, 9780525427919).

TV: Wolf Hall

Damian Lewis (Homeland, Life, Parade's End) will play Henry VIII in the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, directed Peter Kosminsky. He joins a stellar cast that includes Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Mark Gatiss (Stephen Gardiner), Anton Lesser (Thomas More) and Jonathan Pryce (Cardinal Wolsey). BBC News reported that the "much anticipated six-part miniseries, to be aired on BBC2 next year, has begun filming in both Bristol and the Wiltshire National Trust properties of Great Chalfield Manor and Lacock Abbey."

"I love it when an author, such as Hilary Mantel, does her research and discovers an original understanding of a very familiar piece of history," said Rylance. "Even during our rehearsals her detailed imagination of the world of Thomas Cromwell is alive in Peter Straughan's ingenious and faithful adaptation."

Books & Authors

Awards: Thwaites Wainwright Prize

Hugh Thomson won the inaugural £5,000 (US$8,467) Thwaites Wainwright Prize for U.K. Nature & Travel Writing for his book The Green Road into the Trees: A Walk Through England, the Bookseller reported. Dame Fiona Reynolds, chair of the prize and former director-general of the National Trust, described the winning title as "the best mix of contemporary nature and travel writing:  a narrative journey spiced with humor and anecdote, gritty reality and evocation of place and history."

Maxim Leo: In Search of a Vanished State

Maxim Leo, a journalist and author born and raised in East Berlin, was consumed by one question while working on his award-winning memoir, Red Love: The Story of an East German Family.

"It was a question I asked myself: How was it possible that all this energy, all this enthusiasm, all these convictions disappeared so quickly," Leo recalled. Red Love was published in Germany in 2009 and won the European Book Prize in 2011. Last month, Pushkin Press released the book in the U.S. In the memoir, translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside, Leo chronicles the lives of his grandparents and parents, as well as his own upbringing in East Berlin.

"My grandparents' generation founded the East German state with such an energy, and this energy disappeared" over the span of just three generations, so much so that Leo's generation was glad to see the German Democratic Republic disappear. "There were many books and films and movies and plays in the theater about East German life," he said, but they didn't depict East Germany as he experienced it and didn't answer his questions. "Now East Germany is gone, and there's so much exaggeration about how it was."

So Leo turned to his own life, and to the lives of his parents and grandparents, to better understand what happened. His maternal grandfather, Gerhard, was the son of a Jewish lawyer and fought for the French Resistance during World War II. A war hero and former exile, he was a true believer in the GDR and the socialist cause. Leo's paternal grandfather spent most of World War II working in a munitions factory; after the war he became a teacher in East Berlin. Leo's mother, Anne, was a journalist who gradually became disillusioned with both socialism and her own profession, while Wolf, Leo's father, was an artist who spoke bitterly about the state.

In the opening pages of Red Love, he writes: "Our family was like the miniature GDR. It was here that the struggles took place, the ones that couldn't be fought out anywhere else. Here ideology collided with life."

Leo was 19 years old when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. In October of 1990, he began studying political science at the Free University in what has been West Berlin. For him and other young people his age, the timing "couldn't be better." Almost immediately they were able to travel and discover the wider world. But for his parents, who were "too young to retire, but too old to really integrate," and even his younger brother, things were much more difficult.

"He stayed at home with my parents during this time," Leo said of his brother, who is five years younger than him. "His generation, they were afraid to see their parents so afraid, to see them lose control. They absorbed this kind of feeling. It was much more complicated for him to get a positive, good attitude. For me, because I lived already in my own apartment, because I lived my own life, there was no hesitation."

Since 1997, Leo has been an editor at the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. And since Red Love's publication in 2009, he's written three other nonfiction books, with a first novel due out next autumn. The first of those three nonfiction books is a collection of correspondences with a friend about what it means to be a man in middle age, while the other two are collections of weekly editorials by Leo and another Berliner Zeitung editor. The novel is a crime novel, about a detective who returns to his childhood home in Brandenburg (the state surrounding Berlin and formerly part of the GDR) to solve a murder after spending 20 years in the West, in Stuttgart.

"You always have this kind of thinking in my books," said Leo, referring to the questions of identity and what remains of the GDR. "It's a very important matter for me."

Today, Leo lives in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Berlin with his wife and two daughters, in an apartment just a few buildings down from the spot where he was born. Though the buildings and streets look much the same, the neighborhood has undeniably changed and the Wall itself seems to have disappeared from the minds of most Germans.

"When I speak to my children about East German matters, about the Wall," mused Leo, "they see me and think of the grandfather talking about the First World War." --Alex Mutter

GBO Picks The Wall and Other Stories

The German Book Office in New York has picked The Wall and Other Stories by Jurek Becker, introduction by Christine Becker, translated by Jonathan Becker (Arcade, $19.95, 9781628723250) as its May Book of the Month.

One of the giants of postwar German literature, Becker was born in 1937 in Lodz, Poland. He was interned the Lodz ghetto with his parents from 1940 to 1944 and was subsequently a prisoner in the Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. After the war, Becker's father took him to East Berlin, where they were among the few surviving Jews who chose to stay in Germany. He became a screenwriter and novelist. A dissident in East Germany, in 1977 he emigrated to West Berlin. He died in 1997.

The Wall: And Other Stories is a new collection of stories that either have never been translated into English or have never been published here in book form. The GBO described The Wall this way: "The title story, 'The Wall,' recounts two boys' risky adventure when they scale the wall of a transit camp to visit the ghetto their families have recently vacated. In 'The Most Popular Family Story,' a favorite anecdote recounted year after year at the gatherings of an extended Jewish family subtly marks the absences left by the Holocaust. Also included are two stories of Communist East Germany and the wall that divided Berlin, 'The Suspect' and 'Romeo,' as well as a short essay on the Lodz ghetto, 'The Invisible City.' "

Christine Becker is the widow of Jurek Becker. Jonathan Becker is the son of Christine and Jurek Becker, finished school in the U.K. and worked at the Suhrkamp publishing house, Seagull Books in India and at the Volksbühne Berlin.

Book Review

Review: Laidlaw

Laidlaw by William McIlvanney (Europa Editions, $16 trade paper, 9781609452018, June 3, 2014)

Originally published in 1977, William McIlvanney's Laidlaw, the first book in a trilogy, set a standard for noir mystery. In this reissue, McIlvanney's gruff, broad strokes read as freshly as ever.

Glaswegian detective inspector Laidlaw is the quintessential hardened, hard-drinking cop. Sarcasm, problems at home and a prickly exterior belie a sensitive man who believes that his society bears some responsibility for every crime he investigates.

Laidlaw is approached by a thug he's dealt with before: Bud Lawson's daughter hasn't come home from the club, and Lawson wants Laidlaw's help. Where other cops hold Bud's criminal past against him, Laidlaw is willing to assist. For this case, he is partnered with the ambitious and impressionable young detective constable Harkness, who is meant to act as liaison between Laidlaw's unconventional tactics and the police establishment. Harkness is an excellent foil for Laidlaw's methods and worldview, and the growth and development of their relationship throughout is a satisfying side plot.

A murdered teenage girl does not, on the surface, look to be related to the network of thugs and gangsters that run Glasgow's criminal industry. But her killer--exposed to the reader early on--quickly becomes a pawn. Bud Lawson's gangster associates want him so they can exercise their revenge; other gangsters with other connections want him spirited safely out of town; and, of course, Laidlaw has his own goals--though, as he asks, "Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice?"

The phonetically spelled Scottish brogue adds color to dialogue, and McIlvanney's remarkable lyricism is surprisingly refined in this dark, coarse world ("She waited patiently for his head to come back from a walk around his guilt"). His strengths are both character and setting: Laidlaw is a complex individual, harder on himself than on anyone else, with an iconoclastic nature and difficulty with authority figures. The Glasgow McIlvanney evokes, rife with poverty and an unglamorous criminal underbelly, is absolutely compelling, and is a precursor to strong mystery settings like Michael Connelly's Los Angeles or James Lee Burke's Louisiana.

Laidlaw is not so much action-packed--although there is plenty of head-busting--as it is considered, psychological and concerned with the existential. McIlvanney has earned his reputation as the father of the "tartan noir" crime-writing genre that includes Ian Rankin, Denise Mina and Val McDermid. Readers will be glad to know that the next two books in this trilogy are set for re-release in late 2014. --Julia Jenkins

Shelf Talker: This literary Scottish noir mystery from the 1970s--heavy on character, setting and lyricism--lives up to its reputation in this reissue.

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